Brave Writer

In a special double-length episode, Jenn, Courtney, and AJ tackle the academics of Brave Writer. We begin with a high level overview of how Brave Writer covers grammar, literature, and writing, dig deep into the teaching methods (with stops along the way for the curse of expertise, paragraph-level writing instruction, and the intersection of cultural capital), and take a look at curricula sequences, including analyzing rigor, parent effort, online classes, FERPA, cost, and “high tide/low tide” homeschooling seasons.  

The Curriculum Rating Game, Part 3

In this episode, Jenn, AJ, and Courtney talk about: Mater Amabilis, Mapping the World with Art, Draw Squad, Royal Fireworks Press, Memoria Press Lit Guides and enrichment sets, Mathematical Enhancement Programme (MEP), Minimus, Miquon Math, Math Mammoth, Moving Beyond the Page, Math-U-See, Orton-Gillingham, Oak Meadow, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (OPGTR), Phonics Pathways, Oxford University Press (OUP) Latin, Plaid Phonics, Quidnam Press, Rod and Staff, Patterns of Nature, River of Voices, Reading Pathways, Pyramids, Real Science for Kids, RightStart Math, Sadlier Vocabulary, Saxon Math.

Good Enough Homeschool Season 1 Ep 19

The Curriculum Rating Game Part 1

Jenn keeps score as she, Courtney, and AJ rate curricula, Yelp style. On deck in this episode are: 100 Easy Lessons, All About Learning, Analytical Grammar, History of US, Seton, Ambleside Online, Art of Problem Solving (Beast Academy), ARTistic Pursuits, Blossom and Root, Barefoot Meandering, Beautiful Mundo, Five in a Row, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, BookShark, Botany in 8 Lessons, Botany in a Day, Building Thinking Skills, Brave Writer, Build Your Library, Calvert, Canon Press, Logos, and Veritas, Matin Latin, Writing & Rhetoric, Latin for Children, Phonics Museum, Classical Conversations, Core Knowledge, Charlotte Mason, Ecce Romani, Evan-Moor, Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool, English from the Roots Up, and Elemental Science.

Good Enough Homeschool S1 Ep 18

Changing Your Homeschool with the Seasons / Pepper & Pine Silk Road Unit Study

“In addition to homeschooling with the calendar seasons, we also face the challenge of homeschooling through life’s seasons. When things in our families may not be ideal or right now when the whole world is in chaos because of the pandemic.”

–AJ Campbell

Links to referenced organizations, books, and websites:

Good Enough Homeschool S1 Ep 17

 Secular Bible Study with Christy Knockleby

“families should have access to the same type of historical critical exploration of the Bible that is taught at university. It’s a perspective that says that the Bible was written by human beings over a long period of time, and it was edited by other humans. The writing itself has a history and scholars can attempt to uncover that history. In looking at the Bible, we’re not just looking at the stories, but also possible explanations for why the stories were written, what ideas are promoted within different stories.”

–Christy Knockleby

Links to referenced organizations, books, and websites:

A Secular Bible Study

Christy Knockleby – Outschool 

an article with an image of a page of the Talmud

National Council for the Social Studies

American Academy of Religion

Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K–12 Public Schools

Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know

The Works of Lord Byron. Vol. 5 (Cain)

The King’s Mirror (Speculum Regale–Konungs Skuggsjá)

The Project Gutenberg eBook of “The Bacchae”


Digital Hammurabi YouTube Channel


The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project

The Edge of the Circle

Good Enough Homeschool S1 Ep 16

 English Language Arts: what they are and how to teach them within a classical framework.

Parts of ELA:

Teaching your child to read is perhaps the most difficult and most important job you will ever have as a homeschooling parent. The Simple View formula presented by Gough and Tunmer in 1986 is: Decoding (D) x Language Comprehension (LC) = Reading Comprehension (RC)

Hollis Scarborough, a reading researcher, came up with the analogy of the Reading Rope. Her analogy is that learning to read requires seven strands of education for children to become fluent readers. Addressing each strand is necessary, but insufficient on its own. 

Classical education addresses all of them, often with specific curricula.

Decoding (the early years)

Why it matters?

Stanovich, Keith E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 360-407.

Quote: “The increased reading experiences of children who crack the spelling-to-sound code early thus have important positive feedback effects. Such feedback effects appear to be potent sources of individual differences in academic achievement”

Comprehension (accumulates) — the Matthew Effect

In 1988, Recht and Leslie tested children by dividing them into four groups based on two factors: reading ability and prior knowledge of baseball (creating groups of high-high, high-low, low-high, and low-low). In all measurements, the students with high prior knowledge performed better, regardless of which reading level they had been grouped with. “In light of the importance of adequate prior knowledge, strategy instruction and the knowledge base should be equally considered in the design of instruction.” In other words, we need to give kids background knowledge AND teach them how to decode texts.

How to?

  • Diffuse background knowledge
    • field trips to museums, art galleries, and the like, as well as … travel and exchange programs”
    • talking with your child–possibly the most important intervention you can do with young children. Erika Christakis wrote a whole book about why it was so important (The Importance of Being Little)
    • picture study
    • “an ongoing atmosphere of exploration, experimentation, and happy chaos” — Susan Wise Bauer
    • Memory Work (AJ! Poetry memorization, etc) Classical education uses memorization as a way of cementing the knowledge gained in the curriculum. Memorization frees up working memory to deal with new cognitive tasks (i.e., what you’re trying to teach them!). It also provides connecting points for new information to build knowledge.
      In ELA, that can include things like grammar definitions or more general background knowledge (mythology, proverbs, etc.), but memorizing poetry is the most common and popular type of ELA memory work. As Courtney mentioned, nursery rhymes and tongue twisters build phonemic awareness and help with pronunciation (mention my recent Spanish class). Children’s poetry is often playful and humorous but also introduces simple poetic forms and accustoms children to the rhythm of language. Classic poetry for older students helps exercise the memory and helps them recognize common types of figurative language, which will be important both in literary analysis and in their own writing.
  • Spelling -> vocabulary/etymology 
    • “a systematic curriculum that presents new words in familiar contexts, thereby enabling the student to make correct meaning-guesses unconsciously” — E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
    • “In the content areas (history, science, literature, art, music), classical learning provides a [systematic] framework” for learning about new things — Susan Wise Bauer
    • curricula
      • Spelling Workout
      • All About Spelling
      • Barton
      • Vocabulary from Classical Roots
      • Wordly Wise
  • language structures/Grammar and composition
  • verbal reasoning
  • Read-alouds/literacy knowledge
    • Writing With Ease (curriculum that includes print concepts, genre)
    • “The student who is working on ancient history will read Greek and Roman mythology, the tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, early medieval writings, Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, and (for the older student) the classical texts of Plato, Herodutus, Virgil, Aristotle.” — Susan Wise Bauer
  • Penmanship
    • curricula
      • Handwriting Without Tears
      • MP’s New American Cursive
      • Logic of English–Rhythm of Handwriting
      • Getty-Dubay

Show notes links:

Living Memory and 101 Poems anthology:

Why Memorize?

Good Enough Homeschool S1 Ep 15

Becoming an Educational Architect. We think this is not only the best podcast in quality that we’ve recorded, but it’s also the most important one for you, the listener, to take to heart.


AJ Campbell- (AJC) Courtney Ostaff (CO) Jenn Naughton (JN)

Early Childhood
The Importance of Being Little by Erika Christakis (AJC)

What’s Going on in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot (CO)

Science of Learning

Make It Stick by Peter Brown et al.  (AJC)

How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice by Paul A. Kirschner and Carl Hendrick (CO)

Reading Instruction

Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide (AJC)

Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It by Mark Seidenberg (CO)

Math Instruction

Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics by Liping Ma (AJC) (JN)

The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics by Stanislas Dehaene (CO)

Writing Instruction

The Writing Revolution by Judith C. Hochman and Natalie Wexler (AJC) (CO) (JN)

K-12 Homeschooling Guide

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (AJC) (CO) (JN)

Classical Education (Theory or History)

Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons (AJC)

Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass (CO) (JN)

More Books for the Avid Reader

Closing of the American Mind by Bloom (CO) paired with Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz  (CO) 

The Great Tradition by Richard Gamble (AJC)

Useful Posts:

People to Follow on Twitter for Solid Educational Info

Daniel Willingham @DTWillingham (AJ) (JN)

Right to Read Project @right2readproj (JN)

Tom Sherrington @teacherhead Curriculum Design (CO)

Harry Fletcher-Wood @HFletcherWood Habit training, “knowing what students know” (CO)
Michael Pershan @mpershan Math Instruction (CO)
Patrice Bain @PatriceBain1 implementing cognitive science at home (CO)
Timothy Shanahan @ReadingShanahan science of teaching reading (CO)
Oliver Lovell @ollie_lovell Cognitive Science in teaching (his podcast is fantastic) (CO)
Stephanie Ruston @Spell2Read how children learn to read (CO)
Jennifer Binis @JennBinis historian of education (CO) (JN)

Vesia @VesiaHawkins Black mother, grandmother, education & reading proponent (CO)
Emily Hanford @ehanford NPR journalist focused on cog sci of reading (CO)

Get Yourself a Plan!

The Well-Trained Mind by  Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (neoclassical)

Core Knowledge Sequence (K-8) – free download, free curriculum (public/charter) 

CM Your Way Form Guides (Charlotte Mason)

Other works mentioned:
Chetty, Friedman & Rokoff’s research on teacher effectiveness
The researchED Guide to the Curriculum

Good Enough Homeschool Podcast S1 Ep 13 and 14

Here we are back in 2021. We’re starting strong out of the gate with two episodes talking with our favorite Math guru- Lu Allen.

Lu Allen is an educator and homeschooling parent living on D’Harawal land in Australia. She currently teaches history, mythology, literature, languages, and mathematics to small groups of students through her business Epic Education Illawarra. Lu is interested in Ethics of Care in education, and in teaching children with learning exceptionalities including but not limited to autism, ADHD, and giftedness.

Show Notes: Aristotle’s Laws of Thought:,_non-contradiction,_excluded_middle
Mandelbrot Set:

Courtney’s math curricula recommendations:

  • RightStart — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on, expensive, rigorous, scripted (good for busy parents). The review is built into games, parent-intensive. My personal favorite for kindergarten. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
  • Singapore Math Essentials — just what it reads, the essential bits of math. Easy to use. Singapore Math is justifiably regarded as a high-quality math program. 
  • Singapore Math Primary — Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 necessary home instructor’s guides). Manipulatives are required and must be purchased separately or scavenged from around the house. Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. Renowned word problems available in yet another book. (tip: use the grade below, not the current grade)
  • Singapore Math Dimensions 7 & 8 Algebra I. Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 teaching guides, 2 solutions manuals). Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. At this level, mostly suitable for parents who are themselves math teachers or very confident in explaining rigorous mathematics.
  • Saxon K-3 — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Scripted, mostly aloud, intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Parent intensive, but short lessons (15-20 min). Required manipulatives kit sold separately. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
  • Saxon 5/4 and up one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Written to the student. No instructor guide available.  Intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities who can read well or whose parent will read to them.
  • Miquon Math — very different. Based around Cuisenaire rods, it’s all hands-on, no to very little reading. K-2 only. Required teacher’s books sold separately. Very conceptual, good for later transition to Singapore or Beast Academy. Suitably primarily for parents who themselves are math teachers or early childhood specialists.
  • Math Mammoth – grades 1- 7 written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
  • Beast Academy — Grades 2- 5 Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Comic book style (children will either love it or hate it). Expensive, with four workbooks and four textbooks per grade level. Some levels available online. Feeds directly into the Art of Problem Solving curricula.
  • Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra and up Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Includes access to online practice and videos. Available as an online class through AoPS and other online boutique schools.
  • Teaching Textbooks, To be honest, this is not a particular favorite of mine. However, it does allow the student to work independently, and at the middle school level, which can reduce conflict between student and parent. All a parent would need to do is check and make sure the work has been done. This is a streaming service that covers the traditional topics, with a digital textbook. Suitable for slower math students.

Courtney Ostaff (she/her), author of The Teaching Online Handbook, has been teaching online and offline since 1999. Her second master’s degree is in Secondary Education, with certifications in mathematics, science, and social studies, and a special education certification in teaching the visually impaired. Currently, she homeschools her own children and teaches online at the secondary level, ages 8 to 18. CourtneyOstaff.Com

AJ Campbell, PhD, (they/them) has worked in education since the 1980s and has been actively involved in the classical homeschooling movement for over 15 years. AJ is the author of The Latin-Centered Curriculum, Living Memory, and I Speak Latin. A former homeschooling parent, classroom teacher, and classical school administrator, AJ now offers secular curriculum and private online tutoring through Quidnam Press & Tutorials at

Jenn Naughton, (she/her) is a five-time homeschooler and lifelong bookworm who champions the power of reading for children of all ages. She is the creative behind The Bookish Society which introduces both great new books and new people who share a literature love. Our round table sessions bring bookworms of all ages together in a safe and welcoming atmosphere to bond as readers.